Happy Christmas everyone! Enjoy this present :) Also, I have posted a new Lucifer story called Devilish Delights.
"Do we have any good news?" Johnson asked reluctantly. He didn't want to tempt fate by asking for something positive, but he had his limits. This case had been a nightmare all around.
The mother was lying. The father was a dirty cop. The lover was a dangerous man. Time was fast running out. And, they'd been hacked. Twice.
It was too much to believe that one hacker was 'good.' He despised the term white-hat - as if breaking the law for an individually judged code of morality ever benefited a society – twenty-four hours left, and the press were barking at his heels. His boss was screaming at him down the phone and his ex-wife was betting on the life of a little girl.
Beck and Michaels exchanged speaking looks.
"I've checked out some of hmm - let's call them Mr White's - information. It checks out. Solid research, logical analysis, he shouldn't have access to the data they did, but they've raked it over faster than we could and, well, there's a lot here."
He held out a block of paperwork.
Johnson looked at it; that had to be at least three inches thick.
"Mr White included a summary," Michaels added. "And an index, and page numbers."
"How thoughtful." Johnson sighed, and took it. He could not refuse even a faint, probably fake, lead - not anymore. He paused, realising he was looking at this from the wrong angle. What it said didn't matter; fact was they'd been contacted. Maybe it was the Collector creating a red herring or maybe it was a third party, but it was definitely new.
He took it over to his desk. Beck and Michaels followed, which meant there was something more they wanted to discuss. For a moment, he had the absurd urge to hide under said desk. He blinked, and it was gone. Duty.
Johnson found it neatly labelled on the contents page in clear size 12 Times New Roman font, shameless.
Interrogation of Suspect One, p35-42.
It laid neatly in-between Suggested Avenues of Investigation 42-44 and Persons of Interest 31-34.
"It's mostly a one sided transcript," Becks burst out. "Much of the interrogator's part has been removed, even some of the suspect's, but they've left the gaps and it mostly makes sense."
"A vigilante suspect, and thus also a victim", Johnson corrected her. The law was the law and it applied to everyone or it applied to no one, no matter how galling that could be. They were not judges.
The agent stared down at the paper to hide the realisation in his eyes from his team. He knew, with the suddenness of intuition and instinct exactly who was responsible for this new tangle.
Had he not just been thinking it earlier?
The lover was a dangerous man.
Two days ago – and god was it only two days – he'd read Mr Morningstar as a playboy, rich and bored, looking for a new thrill. It hadn't seemed to matter much; he'd get bored but why not use him whilst they could? Besides, it was a local matter; the agencies had trouble enough interacting as it was without anyone thinking he was an interfering busybody.
Except, well, Johnson had been in the business for decades. He didn't spill his guts like a rotten tomato. He didn't care how stressed he'd been, how exhausted. What had happened when Morningstar had drawn him away… no. Was he supposed to believe he could hold up under torture but not a smile? It just shouldn't have happened. He wasn't a rookie, he wasn't flighty, he knew what confidential meant.
It had suddenly made the local gossip relevant.
He normally didn't care for the regional office politics, seen one seen them all, and there were only so many times he could overhear tales of one man's bedroom prowess before he got uncomfortable. Lucifer was so handsome. Lucifer was so charming. Lucifer was sleeping with her, her, her, her, and him. All of it useless trivia until he'd heard Lucifer was weird. Strange. There's just something off about him. That was lucky, wasn't it? Must be a coincidence. Lucifer did his thing and it was game over after that.
His 'thing.' As if it was a recognised skill or talent, an event, established and known.
Thinking about it made him feel awkward. What if – but no. Impossible.
And none of this was actually helping him to make a decision about this Mr White and his far too convenient assistance.
Could he trust this information?
Did he abandon all procedure, all protocol and all common sense on the hunch that this information was real and actionable?
It'd be an impossible choice to defend. Proper police work was slow, laborious and thorough – and that was the way they liked it. He didn't rely on information from random and illegal sources, he didn't take officers away from searching CCTV footage, of hunting through records, of real and necessary tasks to go and arrest a man on the word of another criminal.
And yet…He was tired. He knew what happened to the victims when he couldn't get there in time, he'd seen too many children die in his lifetime, and had to read the autopsy reports afterwards. He didn't want to add another dead kid to his conscience.
Whatever Morningstar's agenda, at least he wanted the girl alive.
Fuck it, he thought. Just fuck it all. At least I can say I tried. The old ways weren't working – nobody could deny that - so it was time to try something new.
"So, who is Amenadiel and why should we be arresting him?"
"Amenadiel – no last name – is the supposed brother of one Mr Morningstar of our acquaintance," Julie said immediately. Clearly, she'd already done the research whilst he'd been sequestered with the mother and that god-awful video.
There was Morningstar's motive too: family drama.
"Considering their skin colours, and the lack of any official records that are not obviously fake, I think it's safe to say we're talking 'brothers' of the other sort," Michaels added.
"He was in the station yesterday too. Detective Espinoza said he witnessed an argument between this Amenadiel – weird name– and Mr Morningstar. It got pretty heated, and only ended when Detective Decker insisted Amenadiel leave."
"Amenadiel," Agent Johnson mused, leaning back in his chair. "The suffix -el, meaning of God, and that young lady who interrupted us so spectacularly yesterday was named Lilith, I believe. I'm beginning to see a pattern."
"There's CCTV stills in the package, Amenadiel meeting with a man I think you'll recognise."
Johnson looked down at Mr White's briefing and turned to page 31. Half way down, under a detailed summary, there were a dozen small photos. Not the best quality given what they had to work with here, but Amenadiel was recognisable from his description and doubtless, a few people here could identify him for them. The other man was Peter Castello.
They were shaking hands, smiling, in Castello's personal study. He'd seen that room before.
"Proof enough to bring them both in for a little chat, don't you think?" Julie wheedled.
Johnson looked at the white board. A photograph of a smiling little girl in the middle, the seventh since this case began. He looked down at the flimsy, biased and unverifiable 'evidence' from a hacker who was probably working for Lucifer bloody Morningstar. He looked at the faces of his team – hopeful for the first time in a very, very long time. He looked at his badge, thrown down onto his desk hours ago. He looked at the whiteboard again. That smile would haunt him if she died, he just knew it.
"We move on this and it's a bust, we're all fired," he warned.
Michaels shrugged, "Let's be honest, we're going down for this anyway. Seven victims, no arrest and a media shitstorm? We're already an embarrassment, the bureau wont have a choice if there's an eighth."
Well, he couldn't deny that.
"So be it."
She really didn't want to do this.
Chloe looked into the interrogation room. Her husband still sat at the desk, staring blankly at the wall.
Still, they had to talk, and it had to be now, when Lucifer was busy elsewhere – not that she actually knew what he was doing because he wasn't answering her texts the irritating little – and she was procrastinating again.
Bracing herself, Chloe went in.
He looked over at her – and looked away.
Good, she thought, vindictively, feeling dark, no, righteous satisfaction at the sight of his misery. He deserved no better.
He'd lied to her, sabotaged her career and he'd kept his dirty secrets even when it became clear that they as well as a dozen other crimes had endangered Trixie.
God, was that really her voice? She had no idea she could sound so cold. He flinched away from her and it was good.
He shrugged. He fucking shrugged.
"What do you want me to say?" Dan stood, shouting. "It was just a little extra cash here and there, where was the harm Chloe? Do you think I'd have done it if I knew it would lead to this? It was just money. Money we needed with a baby on the way! Malcolm's the one who went psycho after your fucking boyfriend got to him, not me. This has nothing to do with me!"
"I don't care about how it started," Chloe said, feeling calmer the more enraged Dan became. "Do you think that matters now? Well, except to the judge," she needled because this could never be forgiven, "I care that you knew Malcolm was crooked, you knew he hated me in particular and you knew a cop helped The Collector but you didn't say anything. You stayed quiet to protect yourself, and my daughter is paying the price."
Chloe scoffed. "You won't apologise will you?"
Dan changed tracks. "I'm sorry Chloe – you know I'm not like that, you know-"
She held her hand up and he fell silent.
"I'm done," she said quietly. "I'm just done. When this over, I'm getting the divorce papers. Sign. I never want to see you again."
She turned and left, refusing to hear another word he said. He tried to chase after her, but she ignored that too.
She was done.
Lucifer wasn't one for doubting. He made his choices, and he stood by them proudly. That was the way it had always been. He had no regrets.
But there was a flicker of shadow within his light; the detective would not like this course of action.
It shouldn't matter; he'd kept his word, hadn't he? He'd made no bargains about methods but… well, exactly: but.
He brooded over the half-empty bottle.
He'd been happy the past six years. Free. He'd been able to live amongst mortals; mortals who still had their glorious flesh and their hot blood. All those emotions, all of that passion – it had been sensual ecstasy after so very long below – and there was far less screaming topside. It wasn't a holiday, it was an escape.
Without his Mantle he'd been, well, he didn't know what he'd been. And that had been new, exciting. Giving it up and been the perfect fuck you to dear old dad. I will not play your game anymore. I will not be your scapegoat.
Six years later – a mere quarter of a blink in time– he'd taken it all back. It was a very bitter pill to swallow.
He hadn't had to. There'd been plenty of mortal means he could have tried first, it was just that failure would have been...unacceptable. Unthinkable. The Detective's face would have gone all pale, her eyes would have been all blurry with salt-water and he'd never ever have heard the end of it.
Dad must be howling with laughter, the bastard.
It wasn't much of a second rebellion, six mortal years. Dad was probably patting himself on the back – job well done, everybody toeing the line once more as he must have known all along. As he must have planned.
No, he did not regret it, but he did wish it hadn't been necessary. How likely was that though? With the ultimate puppermaster plying his craft upstairs? It had only ever been a matter of time, Lucifer knew, before he was reeled back in – and that really only made the whole thing worse, hence the bottle. Sometimes, it was like he was the only slave who could see his chains.
When the Detective had called him, he'd weighed his options carefully.
Futile rage had squirmed and roared with defiance and defeat inside of him. It wasn't fair. He didn't want to go back. Not even for the Detective would he do it -
But the child was innocent.
She did not deserve to pay the price for his choices. She did not deserve the pawn's fate. There'd be no blood stained altar in her future.
Dad would have his way whether she lived or died, and so she might as well live. Beatrice's life didn't matter to Him, but it did to Lucifer and drawing out this new game wasn't worth the cost to the Detective. Dad wouldn't stop just because Lucifer ignored Him and His loyal agent. Trixie would only have been the first to die.
Dad had put his foot down. Lucifer had caved.
It was defeat. And it hurt.
He felt her presence before she spoke. How could he not when she burned like a star? Such a very bright soul even with the veil of sin, no wonder he hadn't been able to resist. Even now, it called to him.
"You haven't been answering my texts."
"You weren't sexting," Lucifer told his whisky roughly. It was nine hundred years old, a whole barrel traded to him by a farmwife who desperately needed a son if she was going to survive; it was his go-to drink for hard thinking.
He abandoned the drink and turned to her, feeling the weight of inevitability settle about them.
"There's only eighteen hours left. Please tell me you have something." Her voice was raw with emotion, and he couldn't bear to see her pain. Even if she hated him – it would be worth it.
For all his vices, he'd never been craven.
The Devil looked the Detective straight in the eye and took her hand in his. She didn't flinch, but she would by the end of this. He savoured the contact, the trust, whilst he had it.
"I do, but you aren't going to like it."